Yes, you can have bread on the low FODMAP diet! Keep reading to learn about certified low FODMAP options and general tips to help you choose a low FODMAP bread.
What’s a FODMAP? FODMAP is short for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. It’s an easy way to refer to certain types of carbohydrates that can contribute to digestive symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). FODMAP intake is temporarily reduced on the low FODMAP diet. Click to learn more.
There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of bread products available worldwide. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and our food preferences are also very individual. So, personalization is important when it comes to the low FODMAP diet.
Find a local GI or FODMAP-trained Dietitian
Before we get to my other top tips on how to choose a low FODMAP bread, I strongly encourage you to connect with a GI or FODMAP-trained dietitian in your city, your state, your region, or at the very least, your country.
FODMAP content in foods can vary depending on geographical location.
A local dietitian, preferably trained in gastrointestinal (GI) or FODMAP nutrition, is going to know more about the best low FODMAP options available to you in your area and can help provide recommendations based on your unique experience with IBS.
Choose a certified low FODMAP bread
Laboratory testing is the most accurate way to determine if a food is low FODMAP.
Certified low FODMAP bread products in the US
Schar Gluten Free
Schar offers widely available certified low FODMAP bread options in the United States. You can find Schar in many US grocery stores, usually in the “natural,” “health,” or gluten-free foods section, as well as online.
Although many Schar products have been tested and certified low FODMAP by Monash University, not every Schar product is low FODMAP. Here is a list including some of Schar’s certified options available in the United States.
Please Note: Schar is a global company and certified low FODMAP products vary by country. Please refer to the Monash App for a complete list of tested and certified low FODMAP products from Schar.
Other certified low FODMAP breads available in the US
Currently, there are not a lot of certified low FODMAP bread products in the United States. Here are some other brands with certified low FODMAP bread options in the US:
These products appear to be available at select locations in the eastern United States and parts of Canada.
Try a general low FODMAP serving
Access to certified low FODMAP products is not always feasible. Instead of completely eliminating bread (and missing out on beneficial fiber, vitamins, and minerals), consider using the available low FODMAP data to help guide your choices.
Monash University has tested a variety of wheat and gluten-free bread categories (i.e., not brand specific). Here are general low FODMAP serving sizes for different bread categories:
White wheat bread (United States): A low FODMAP serving of wheat-based white bread is 1 slice or 35 grams, according to Monash University. Larger servings (2 slices) contain high amounts of the FODMAP, fructan.
Sprouted multigrain bread (United States): A low FODMAP serving of sprouted multigrain bread is 1 slice or 35 grams, according to Monash University. Larger servings (2 slices) contain high amounts of the FODMAP, excess fructose.
White sourdough bread (United States): According to Monash University, a low FODMAP serving for white wheat sourdough bread is up to 2 slices or 109 grams.
Whole-wheat sourdough bread (United States): A low FODMAP serving for wholemeal sourdough bread is 2 slices or 97 grams, per the Monash FODMAP App.
Gluten-free white bread (United States): Per Monash University, a low FODMAP serving of white gluten-free bread is 2 slices or 62 grams.
Gluten-free multigrain bread (United States): The low FODMAP serving for multigrain gluten-free bread is 1 slice or 32 grams. Larger servings (2 slices) contain high amounts of the FODMAP, excess fructose, according to Monash University.
100% spelt sourdough bread (United States): A low FODMAP serving of 100% spelt sourdough bread is 2 slices or 82 grams, per Monash University. Other types of spelt bread including spelt sourdough not made with 100% spelt are considered higher in FODMAPs, and temporary avoidance is recommended.
Ingredients, manufacturing processes, and low FODMAP serving sizes can vary between countries. So, if you live in a different country, please check the Monash FODMAP app for more options.
Listen to your body and do what’s best for you.
But also know that some people with IBS benefit from simple changes like reducing portion sizes of their go-to sandwich bread (e.g., 1 slice instead of 2 slices), or switching to a sourdough option.
Wheat products can be low FODMAP
Yes, wheat flour is a high FODMAP ingredient but that doesn’t mean you can’t have bread on the low FODMAP diet.
Although wheat is higher in FODMAPs, it does not need to be avoided completely on the low FODMAP diet (unless required for another medical condition) and can be enjoyed in small amounts.1(https://www.monashfodmap.com/blog/avoiding-wheat-how-strict-on-low-fodmap_10/)
Wheat bread, wheat pasta, soy sauce, and wonton wrappers are several wheat-containing products that have been laboratory-tested for FODMAPS and have low FODMAP serving sizes suitable for the low FODMAP diet.
Sourdough may be better tolerated
Humans lack the enzyme required to break down fructans, the FODMAP group found in wheat.2(Wang, X. J., Camilleri, M., Vanner, S., & Tuck, C. (2019). Review article: biological mechanisms for symptom causation by individual FODMAP subgroups – the case for a more personalised approach to dietary restriction. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 50(5), 517–529. https://doi.org/10.1111/apt.15419) The fermentation process used to make traditional sourdough bread helps to break down fructans.3(Loponen, J., & Gänzle, M. G. (2018). Use of sourdough in low FODMAP baking. Foods, 7(7), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7070096) As a result, sourdough may be better tolerated than regular wheat bread for some of us with IBS.
In general, the low FODMAP serving size for wheat sourdough bread is 2 slices according to Monash University. However, sourdough products can vary in how they are made. Differences in sourdough production can impact FODMAP content and, as a result, may affect tolerance.4(Loponen, J., & Gänzle, M. G. (2018). Use of sourdough in low FODMAP baking. Foods, 7(7), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7070096)
Research supports choosing a traditional sourdough bread that has been made using a slow leavening process.5(Loponen, J., & Gänzle, M. G. (2018). Use of sourdough in low FODMAP baking. Foods, 7(7), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7070096) Ideally, this means that the dough has been allowed to prove for 12 hours. In general, longer proving allows more time for the breakdown of fructans.6(Loponen, J., & Gänzle, M. G. (2018). Use of sourdough in low FODMAP baking. Foods, 7(7), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7070096) 7(Ziegler, J. U., Steiner, D., Longin, C. F. H., Würschum, T., Schweiggert, R. M., & Carle, R. (2016). Wheat and the irritable bowel syndrome – FODMAP levels of modern and ancient species and their retention during bread making. Journal of Functional Foods, 25, 257–266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2016.05.019)
Packaging usually doesn’t indicate how sourdough bread is made. So, I suggest chatting with your local baker or calling the company to ask if their bakery uses a slow leavening process. I’ve had the most luck finding traditionally-made sourdough at small local bakeries.
Take a look at the ingredient lists
As you get more comfortable with the low FODMAP diet, you may want to dive deeper into the ingredients and do a little label reading. Here are some of the higher FODMAP ingredients found in US bread products that you may want to avoid:
- amaranth flour
- apple juice concentrate
- barley flour
- chicory root extract
- high fructose corn syrup
- pear juice concentrate
- rye flour
This list is not exhaustive. There are also ingredients, like pea fiber, that we don’t have FODMAP data for, and therefore, can’t predict general tolerance. For products containing untested ingredients, consider testing-to-tolerance when your symptoms are well-managed.
Do the best you can
The low FODMAP diet only needs to be as restrictive as your symptoms require.
It is not commonly talked about online, but in practice, FODMAP-trained dietitians emphasize the personalization of the low FODMAP diet.8(Wang, X. J., Camilleri, M., Vanner, S., & Tuck, C. (2019). Review article: biological mechanisms for symptom causation by individual FODMAP subgroups – the case for a more personalised approach to dietary restriction. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 50(5), 517–529. https://doi.org/10.1111/apt.15419) 9(Halmos, E. P., & Gibson, P. R. (2019). Controversies and reality of the FODMAP diet for patients with irritable bowel syndrome. In Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Australia) (Vol. 34, Issue 7, pp. 1134–1142). Blackwell Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgh.14650) 10(Chey, W. D. (2019). Elimination Diets for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Approaching the End of the Beginning. In American Journal of Gastroenterology (Vol. 114, Issue 2, pp. 201–203). Wolters Kluwer Health. https://doi.org/10.14309/ajg.0000000000000099)
Some people with IBS benefit from reducing overall FODMAP intake without stressing about every little ingredient.
If you don’t have a trained dietitian to lean onto, consider choosing a certified low FODMAP bread option.
If certified options are not available, consider starting with the bread products you typically eat, just in smaller amounts.
Making small changes like reducing portion sizes of higher FODMAP foods, keeping other meal components lower in FODMAPs, or switching from regular wheat bread to a sourdough option may be enough to help you see improvements in symptoms.685